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Monument Valley has revenues of nearly $6m

The development cost was only around $1.4 million, giving Ustwo a very healthy return

Mobile developer Ustwo today revealed a new infographic (see below) that outlines the financial picture around hit title Monument Valley. In short: it's a very healthy one. With 2.44 million official sales, the studio generated revenues of $5.86 million while the game itself only cost around $1.4 million to build (the original took 55 weeks and $852,000 while Forgotten Shores added on another 29 weeks and $549,000).

The game has been installed on 10 million devices, with iOS platforms clearly driving the most installs. Nearly 82 percent of revenues from Monument Valley were generated via iOS. And 38 percent of sales came from the US.

While Monument Valley has also endured a massive piracy problem, producer Dan Gray commented recently that it's not as bad for the studio as some might think.

"The majority of those users probably wouldn't have bought the game anyway," Gray said of the pirates. "So it's not like we're losing revenue. And, of course, I'm sure some of those users have recommended the game to friends who maybe aren't as tech-savvy as they are. It's essentially free marketing."

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Latest comments (15)

Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 4 years ago
How can this be? A developer actually concentrated on simply making a beautiful game, without any apparent consideration as to how best to "monetize" the design, and they actually made money selling it by that silly outmoded business model of just selling it for an up-front price?
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
I want to know how the hell they spent $1.4M on development. If anyone has a game of similar scope they need doing, we'll do it for a quarter. Really.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 16th January 2015 12:02am

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Dan Wood Visual Effects Artist 4 years ago
If I had to guess, I'd say it has something to do with crafting a unique, stunningly realised game, that is compelling from start to finish and where each and every level is meticulously designed, different, and polished to perfection.
If a few more mobile developers invested some serious money, time, and passion into their games, and spent a little less time agonising over how best to squeeze money out of the mobile gold-rush, we might see a few more success stories, and a few less monetization articles.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Wood on 16th January 2015 1:55am

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Show all comments (15)
Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Yeah, it's the first time I've seen that done Dan. We've invested plenty of money and time and didn't see much return despite much user and critical acclaim - like most "professional" mobile devs. Let's not start waving the "this is how you do it" flag around just because one paid app made some money here. Almost all don't. And doubly so if you spend a million quid making it and only come up with that.

It's a nice game done well and I've played it myself. I also don't have a problem with mobile developers making a profit. That's such a unique event it should definitely be celebrated. But let's just dial back the proselytising a bit, because if all well made games earned money, this one doing so wouldn't be a news item.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 16th January 2015 11:31pm

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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.4 years ago
I hadn't heard of this game until a previous article here and I'm so glad they mentioned it. Its a fantastic game made to unbelievably high production values. The level of ingenuity in each level is a delight.
Interesting to see 12% official sales in China.. Let's hope that trend continues. I was a lecture at Imperial a couple of years ago where David Braben said their piracy rate in China was 30x and yet it was still worth while selling there.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Julian Williams on 16th January 2015 12:21pm

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Mark Hughes Software Developer, 4J Studios4 years ago
Serious question Paul,
if the mobile app business is as cut throat and depressing as you constantly seem to make out (not that I'm disputing that), how do you stay in business? Do you have other revenue streams? Just curious....
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Jessica Kelham assistant producer, Team174 years ago
it's interesting to see the figures, and more interesting that a developer chose to publish them. More free advertising for them i guess, so good on them. The game is highly enjoyable, I am a big Totem fan!

Using very basic averaging, i cheekily worked out what the monthly wage was for a dev at Ustwo... even before tax, i wouldn't mind that sort of salary. You Southern folk, eh?
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Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief4 years ago
@Jessica: I suspect your monthly averaging may have not taken into account a range of other costs: office space, share of overheads, legal, employers National Insurance as well as employee's.

I apologise if I'm wrong: you absolutely may have got them all. But lots of other reader's won't and it's worth making clear that you can't just take the total cost and divide by the number of employees, or anything close.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Serious question Paul,
if the mobile app business is as cut throat and depressing as you constantly seem to make out (not that I'm disputing that), how do you stay in business? Do you have other revenue streams? Just curious....
A lot of MBA types would probably consider us out of business already tbh., as we have no capital at all and barely make the wage bill. The difference between making that wage bill each month and going under for us is the $400 a day we make from advertising in our dice game on Android. All other skus, paid or adware, earn peanuts - including BAFTA nominees, GOTY's and other very well reviewed titles. Those peanuts x30 skus + ad revenue pays four guys not very well. And I know that puts us in the "successful" camp among our peers. What a shit state.

And yes, this does make me a bit bitter tbh. 10 years of living on the edge will do that to anyone. If I could do anything else, I'd be doing it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 16th January 2015 5:37pm

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Julian Williams Founder, WIZDISH Ltd.4 years ago
Sad to hear that @Paul and considerate of you to share such personal info.
If the VR thing takes off you might look at creating content for major companies who want to stay ahead in their field.
Things like rendering high end properties in places like London and NY for foreign buyers, virtual worlds for exercise, promoting 5* hotels and tourist attractions, emergency evacuation drills for oil rigs. Maybe not as glam as gaming but willing to pay for your talent.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Thanks Julian. One of our problems as a business is that we're 100% development nerds. There's nobody that would know how to reach those companies for example.

We'll keep solidering on though as long as we're able. A story I regularly hear is that most "overnight successes" took a decade of hard work to catch a break. Our decade isn't up until the end of March so there's still time.... :)
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Mark Hughes Software Developer, 4J Studios4 years ago
Thanks for being so honest Paul, interesting to hear the other side of mobile dev that doesn't get any press coverage. I've worked for quite a few console games companies over the years who went bankrupt, so I know how finances can often be on a knife edge. Crossing my fingers for your big break, and looking forward to the "overnight success" stories in the press when it happens :).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mark Hughes on 16th January 2015 10:56pm

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Thanks Mark. Watch this space.. :)

I've been in console and mainstream for a long time before Rubicon too, and like you have seen it's not all a bed of roses there either. Where's the rock and roll gone!
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James Barnard Founder / Developer, Springloaded4 years ago
@Paul - Wow, you guys made great little war game, that was awesome! sad to hear you are struggling.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Barnard on 17th January 2015 8:56am

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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development4 years ago
Thanks James. GLWG certinaly does more in self esteem than it does in earnings. Every time I hear something like this, it reminds me of this classic Kevin Bridges sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OoBCTWoDf0 :)
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